“Lisa the Vegetarian” season 7, episode 5

There are plenty of food-centric Simpsons episodes, but the one that tops them all is “Lisa the Vegetarian.” I’ve made Paul and Linda McCartney’s lentil soup, and a spruced-up version of that recipe along with Lisa’s gazpacho appears in The Unofficial Simpsons Cookbook. But I could (and likely will) go on and on with meatless meatloaf, cow legs, suckling pig, burgers, tofu dogs, etc, etc.

For now, I’m focusing on one of the many meaty options at Springfield Elementary’s cafeteria: Giblet McNiblets. They weren’t enough to entice Lisa, but my Instagram followers demanded them. If you want to read more about the episode, visit my lentil soup post here. If you want to hear more about McNibs, read on.

To make this dish in the most literal sense, head to your local butcher and buy a bunch of cleaned chicken hearts. Cut them in half, marinate them in buttermilk, toss them in a simple breading, and fry. If the giblets thing doesn’t sound the most appetizing to you, you can swap for boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces. Either way, serve with a dipping sauce.

Gilet McNiblets
Serves 4

1 pound chicken hearts, cleaned, or 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 to 2 quarts canola or vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika

  1. Cut the prepared chicken hearts in half. Or, if using chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Add the buttermilk to a medium bowl and add the chicken. Toss to coat and ensure all of the chicken is covered. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken from the fridge. Set a clean plate nearby and line a baking sheet with paper towels.
  4. Combine the flour, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, baking powder, garlic powder, and paprika in a shallow bowl and whisk.
  5. Let excess marinade drip off a few chicken pieces for just a second or two and then add them to the flour mixture. Toss to coat completely. Place on the plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  6. Add one inch of oil to a wide, deep, heavy-bottomed pan and heat to 350°F. Let the chicken rest while the oil heats up.
  7. Once hot, add about half of the chicken to the oil, stirring gently with a spider or slotted spoon. Let fry until golden brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes total, flipping as needed. Set on the cooling rack and sprinkle with salt.
  8. Repeat with the remaining chicken and enjoy warm.
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